Focus (Page 32)

“No.”

Hailey glared at him. “Why not? Afraid your brothers won’t believe you can handle three girls?”

Nick choked on his beer.

“Let’s go.” Hailey pushed past him.

He took a step forward, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Hey, I told Allie I’d take her up, and my brothers know I could handle it, but she’s the only one I want.”

“Good luck with that.” Hailey easily brushed off his hand, and continued up.

We followed behind.

A guy with short, black hair blocked Hailey at the top of the stairs.

“Where’s Carl’s room?”

“Carl’s room? I think he’s already busy, but I’m free, definitely free.” He grinned at her.

“Does Carl happen to be busy with a blonde?”

“Maybe, why do you ask? I happen to love redheads.”

“Okay, this is how it’s going to work. You tell me where Carl’s room is now, or I kick your ass.”

He didn’t have a chance to respond. Even with the blaring music, the unmistakable sound of screaming pierced through the air.

“What the f**k was that?” Nick asked, looking below us.

“I don’t know, but I have to find Tiffany.” My body and common sense were yelling at me to turn around and get the heck out of the house, but there was no way I was leaving Tiffany behind.

“Fine, I told you I’d help.” Nick’s expression revealed genuine concern. “Come on, Sean, they’re looking for their friend.”

“I’m sure she’s fine. Carl’s probably taking good care of her.”

“Shut the hell up and help us find her.” Anne put a hand on his chest. Hailey and I both looked at each other. Anne had more nerve than we expected.

Sean gave in, holding his hands up in front of himself in defeat.

We had just pushed our way past the guys when I heard the whoosh.

I turned around just in time to watch a wave of fire engulf the stairs.

“Shit, we have to get out of here,” Nick yelled.

“How? We can’t go back down those stairs.” Sean glanced around him nervously.

“We’re not leaving without Tiffany. Where is Carl’s room?”

“Upstairs,” Nick finally answered. He was definitely starting to panic.

“There’s another floor?” Anne asked.

“The stairs are down that hall, but we can’t keep moving up. Let’s go out a window.”

“We’re not leaving Tiffany,” Hailey and I said at the same time.

Anne leaned over wheezing.

“Anne? Are you okay?”

She shook her head.

“Do you have your inhaler?” Anne had asthma that was usually well controlled.

She shook her head again.

“Let’s find Tiffany and go.” I moved toward the stairs without checking to see if the guys were following us. I felt the heat as the fire continued to spread across the floor boards. Smoke gradually filled the small hallway, and I fell to the floor. I crawled towards the wall. Anne was wheezing so hard, I knew she probably couldn’t breathe.

I shook Hailey. “You have to get her out of here.”

“I can’t leave you and Tiffany.”

“You have to. Hopefully she won’t remember your wings. Come back for Tiffany and me, or get Levi.”

“Allie, I can’t.”

“Do it, Hailey. Do it.”

She nodded. “I’ll be right back.” She pushed open a door into a bedroom. I followed with Nick and Sean behind me. Hailey picked up Anne and jumped out. Her wings came out and she disappeared into the night.

“This smoke is making me hallucinate,” Nick said to himself.

Sean looked out the window. “We have to jump. There’s no other choice.”

I stuck my head out the window and breathed in some fresh air before heading back into the hallway. “I have to find her.”

I didn’t look behind me as I reached the hallway. The heat was intense, and I could barely see through the smoke. I looked toward the entryway to the second flight of stairs but it was blocked by a large piece of wood. Objects fell from the ceiling as the house appeared to be caving in. More screams could be heard from downstairs. I turned around and saw Nick trapped under fallen debris.

I crouched low and moved toward him. I tried to pull the boards off him, but they wouldn’t budge.

“Nick, are you okay?” I asked, praying he’d respond. I coughed, the smoke was getting worse.

I saw the flames and knew it was over. I was going to die in a frat house fire. I didn’t cry. I just wished I’d been able to see my family and Levi one last time.

The smoke was too much. I lay down, trying to cover my face with my hands. There was nowhere to go.

“I’ve got you, Al. I’ve got you.” Through the haze, I heard his voice.

“Levi?” I choked out. I opened my eyes, feeling his strong arms around me.

“I’ve got you.”

I looked around me. “But Tiffany and Nick.”

“Jared has Tiffany. And who’s Nick?”

“The guy over there.” I didn’t have the strength to point, but I knew he’d figure it out.

“We don’t have time.”

“Levi! Get him now or I won’t ever talk to or look at you again.”

“Fine.” He adjusted me so I was in one arm and then moved the debris like it was nothing. He picked up Nick like a ragdoll and carried us into the bedroom where Hailey had left. Sean was gone. He must have jumped too. As Levi jumped out, the deafening sound of sirens pierced my ears. Without warning, Levi dropped Nick, before landing a few blocks over in the shadows of a house.

“Levi!”

“You’re lucky I even grabbed him. I can’t get slowed down again. I need to get you away from here.”

“Where is everyone?” I tried to steady myself in Levi’s arms.

“Your friends are already at the hotel. We need to go. I need to make sure you’re okay.”

I knew the tears were forming, so I let him pull me closer. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there sooner. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“This wasn’t a random fire, Allie, trust me.” He kissed my cheek. “Can you handle a longer flight? We need to get downtown.”

“Yes.” I could still feel the heat across my body and the smoke in my lungs, but I wanted to get away. I needed to make sure my friends were okay.